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March 15, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-15

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I

SPORTS

FRIDAY
MARCH 15, 2002

10

sportsdesk@umich.edu

Up-and-comers aim
to end 6-year streak

By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer
Before Notre Dame's series-clinching
2-1 victory over Nebraska-Omaha in
the first round of the CCHA Tourna-
ment Sunday night, Fighting Irish coach
Dave Poulin was asked to talk about
statistics.
"I told our radio guy to throw them
all out," Poulin said.
While it's easy to toss statistics and
records out the window come playoff
time, there is one statistic that the
coaches of the CCHA shouldn't over-
look. Michigan and Michigan State
have walked away from Joe Louis
Arena in Detroit with the last six
CCHA Tournament championships -
winning three each.
Neither the Wolverines nor the Spar-
tans know which team they will play in
the semifinals. Michigan will play the
lowest remaining seed from today's
play-in round tomorrow at 2 p.m, and
Michigan State will take on the highest
remaining seed at 5:30 p.m.
Michigan State coach Ron Mason
has been so successful in the tourna-
ment that the championship trophy is
now called the Mason Cup. The Spar-
tans' general - who will retire and
become Michigan State's athletic direc-
tor at the close of this season - has led
his teams to 12' tournament titles (three
while coaching at Bowling Green), and
Michigan State has taken the last two.
But coaches from around the league
continue to insist that there is parity
throughout the conference - especially
this season, with Michigan and Michi-
gan State both losing to inferior oppo-
nents in conference play.
"Our league is so close and so com-
petitive and tight," Poulin said.
But the parity is not at the top. The
Wolverines and Spartans finished eight
and six points ahead of third-place
Northern Michigan, respectively. There
is parity in spots three through eight, as
the six teams in pursuit of Michigan
and Michigan State were separated by
just six points in the final standings.
Although the standings don't show
any signs of the Spartans and Wolver-
ines losing their string of six straight
CCHA Tournament championships,

this could be the year. Michigan has
shown weakness recently, losing to last
place Lake Superior last Friday at hom
4-3.
"If there was any sign of parity, tha
was it," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "Our team has not been playing
playoff hockey."
Michigan State, which led the CCHA
for two-thirds of the season before los-
ing the regular season title to Michigan
struggled in the final two months, los
ing to Western Michigan, Notre Dam
and Ferris State.
Aside from concentrating on upset-
ting the balance of power, Northern
Michigan and Alaska-Fairbanks have
something else to shoot for - making
the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats, who are ranked at No
12 in the Pairwise Rankings, have a
legitimate claim for an at-large bid, hav
ing swept Michigan and Alaska-Fair.
banks, as well as two nonconference
wins over Cornell and Maine.
"We're as big of a bubble team as
there is," Northern Michigan coach Rick
Comley said. "For sure, we have to win
one game (this weekend), and we might
even have to win two just to get in."
Picked by the CCHA media in the
preseason to finish in last place, the
Nanooks are currently No. 11 in the
Pairwise, breathing down the Wolver-
ines' neck at No. 10. Alaska-Fairbanks
has beaten Michigan and Michigan
State this season and swept Ohio State.
Poulin is convinced that the CCHA
will get three teams in the NCAA Tour.
nament, but if his Fighting Irish or the
Buckeyes upset Northern Michigan or
Alaska-Fairbanks in their play-in games
today, that could change.
While Michigan's loss to Lake Supe-
rior dropped it from No. 4 to No. 10 in
the Pairwise, Poulin says the Wolver-
ines should be in by virtue of their
CCHA regular season title.
Ohio State, which has had an up-and-
down season, and Notre Dame won't
make the NCAA Tournament unless
they win this weekend's tournament.
"We haven't thought that far ahead,'
Poulin said. "We're playing our best
hockey of the year. We've kept our
preparation just like during the regular
season."

SEyes on the pnze
The powers that be...
e
t No. 1 Michigan No. 2 Michigan State
2001-02 record: 2001-02 record:
19-5-4 CCHA, 24-10-5 overall (1st place) 18-6-4 CCHA, 26-7-5 overall (2nd place)
USCHO poll: 9 Pairwise Ranking: 10 USCHO poll: 5 Pairwise Ranking: 5
, Key wins: Alaska-Fairbanks 3), Nebraska-Omal Key wins: Alaska-Fairbanks, at Northern
(3) and Western Michigan (3) Michigan (2), Western Michigan and
e Bad losses: Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota,Michigan
Bowling Green and Lake Superior r Bad losses: North Dakota, Notre
Dame and Ferris State
Why the Wolverines can win: Two
e words: Mike Cammalleri. The junior R Why the Spartans can win:
forward recovered from mono to C Michigan State has owned
score 6-4-10 in his first five games MMichgan, and the rest of
back on the ice. He has shown the the C CHA for that matter.
ability to take a game over count It's no secret. The Wolver-
less times this season. In Michi- ines have not won in six
g an's last two games against games against their arch-
Michigan State, Camm aleririval, and if g e an
was unable to play. In Miller has anything to say
those games a 11 t about it, the streak will con-
and a 3-1 loss - Michi- tinue. Traditionally a defen-
gan needed the sparksiemndtath
S ofa proven playmaker spartans have be much
who has the confidence more explosive offensively
to break the Spartans' this season. Freshman Jim
Hobe-Baer AardSlater has added a creative
t winning goalie Steve Jackson dimes to a Ron
Ryaniller. rCam Mason's team, and the
malle scores a emergence of defense-
with his individ man John-Michael Liles,
withiabi itynibut who leads the team in
alo aiitsu scoring, has strength-
every player ened the Spartans'
S on the ice powerplay. The key
much more totbeating Michi-
explosive gan State will be
when he is scoring on Miller
out there early to break
with them. his seeminy
confidence.
r
w Andy Burnes
photos by DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
1
rMoving on up..
t No. 3 Northern Michigan No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks
2001-02 record: 2001-02 record:
44 16-10-2 CCHA, 25-11-2 overall (3rd place) 15-10-3 CCHA, 22-11-3 overall (4th place)
r USCHO poll: 11 Pairwise Ranking: 12 USCHO poll: 12 Pairwise Ranking: 11
r ey wins: Michigan (2), Alaska-Fairbanks Key wins: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebras-
__~(2), Cornell and Maine ka-Omaha (3 and Western Michigan (2)
Bad losses: Ohio State (2), Michian Tech, Bad losses: Lake Superior, Ferris State (2)
Bowling Green and Notre Dame (2 and Alaska-Anchorage
_ Why the Wildcats can win: Why the Nanooks can win:
Northern Michigan introduced itself to the world of college hockey on When Alaska-Fairbanks' coach Guy Gadowsky stormed out of the CCHA's
the weekend of Oct. 26-27, when it swept Michigan at Yst I ce Arena. Media Day in Detroit because of his team's predicted last-place finish, it
Goatender Craig Kowalski has four shutouts this season and can take was obvious that his Nanooks would have something to prove. The
over a game all by himself. The Wildcats went through a tough stretch Nanooks are led by a balanced offensiveattack that features nine play-
in the middle of their season, but recovered in the last month, putting ers with 20 or more points. Gadowsky has been p laying two goaltenders
themselves in position for a NCAA Tournament bid. Senior center Chad (junior Lance Mayes and sophomore Preston Mc Kay) off and on this sea-
Theuer (16-37-53) is their most explosive offensive player, but he will son. Alaska-Fairbanks swept Ohio State, which it will play today to
need to have a big weekend to lead his team to the championship. advance to the semifinals.
Living on ai prayer ...
No. 7 Ohio State No. 8 Notre Dame
2001-02 record: 2001-02 record:
12-12-4 CCHA, 19-15-4 overall (T-7th place)I 12-12-4 CCHA, 16-16-5 overall (T-7th place)
U SCHO poll: 15 Pairwise Ranking: 18 USCHO poll: N/A Pairwise Ranking: 22
Key wins: Nebraska-Omaha, Northern Michi- Key wins: Northern Michigan, Michigan State
gan (2), Cornell and Western Michigan (4) and Nebraska-Omaha (2)
Bad losses: Bowling Green, Miami (2), Fer- Bad losses: Union (2), Bowling Green, Miami
ris State (2) and Yale
Why the Buckeyes can win: Why the Fighting Irish can win:
Coach John Markell's team entered this season with high expectations The Cinderella slipper is in coach Dave Poulin's closet. But does it fit?
and was supposed to be a contender for the CCHA title. Things haven't Poulin feels his team is playing its best hockey of the season, winning
gone as planned, as the Buckeyes couldn't get their record akove .500. seven of eight on its current run. The Fighting Irish are surging behind an
But Ohio State does have the talent to compete with the league's best. improved defensive effort, as the young core on the blueline has grown up
Super sophomores R.J. Umberger, Dave Steckel, Paul Caponigri and a lot since the beginning of the season. Notre Dame is as explosive as any
DaymendBencharski each have more than 20 points for the season team in the Super 6. Connor Dunlop and David Inman each has more than
Goaltender Mike Betz has been a consistent backstop all season, giving 30 points in C C HA play. The Fighting Irish split their fourgames this sea-
up 2.56 goals per game. son with Northern Michigan, their opponent in the play-in round.

The road to the Mason Cup

Play-in round
Today
4 p.m.
No. 3 Northern Michigan
No. 6 Notre Dame
7:30 p.m.
No. 7 Ohio State
No. 8 Alaska-Fairbanks

Semifinals
Saturday
n4
No. 1 Michigan
lowest remaining seed
No. 2 Michigan State
highest remaining seed

2 p.m.
championship game
Sunday, 3 p.m.
5:30 p.m.

u r ''.
y 'h- .

Enjoy a night of live electronic music on
Saturday March 16t' featuring:
Chris Peck and Stephen Rush
Show starts at 8 p.m.
Admission is $5, $3 for students, with proceeds benefiting
the Ann Arbor Hunger Coalition
Sunday evening Jazz Mass at 5 p.m.

Blue returns home,
prepares for Spartans
By Wai Ting Yu___
For the Daily
I CANHAM NATATORIUM

Being away from home for a long
time is inevitable in college sports, but
there is nothing like the feeling of
returning home - especially when
your in-state rivals are waiting for you.
This will be the case when the No.
13 Michigan water polo team returns
to Canham Natatorium today at 7
p.m. to play against Michigan State
in an exhibition game. Coming off a
strong road trip in Grove City and
Slippery Rock, Pa., the Wolverines
are hoping to continue their seven-
game winning streak.
In most other sports, such as foot-
ball or basketball, the rivalry
between the two schools is evident.

Who: No. 13 Michigan (12-0 CWPA, 12-10
overall) vs. Michigan State (12-11)
When: 7 p.m.
Latest: Michigan is returning home after play-
ing 19 straight games away from Ann Arbor.
This game will be an exhibition.
women's water polo. The Spartans
are a club team, and have been
blown out by the Wolverines in their
meetings in the last two seasons -
the most recent being a 20-8 exhibi-
tion win by Michigan at home on
Jan. 26. But, even though the game
itself will have no impact on Michi-
gan's overall record, the outcome can
still influence its ranking in the
National Collegiate Poll.

*J~55'

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